I’ve long been a fan of taking my lunch to work. It’s cheaper, and I like cooking and usually have good leftovers. But while brown bags might be great for driving, for active commuting, it’s nice to have something compact and strong, that won’t leak or get crushed, and it’s a big bonus if it fits in your other bag(s).
My preferred lunch container is a Mr. Bento. It’s tall and narrow, so it fits well in a bike bag. It tends to stay upright easily because it’s pretty wide and squat, and in my experience is essentially leak-proof because of the double-container setup: outer thermos container, inner food containers. The food containers don’t generally leak either. The bottom one is designed for liquids, and the others (except the big one which is for solid foods only) can handle fairly liquidy food without any problems.
The downside of Mr. Bento is that the containers are fiddly, and sometimes you don’t want four different things for lunch. Oh, and it’s not dishwasher safe. I didn’t have a dishwasher when I bought it, but that’s a downside for most people.
More recently, I’ve used To-Go Ware tiffins. They’re stainless steel and have larger compartments than Mr. Bento (no need to have four different things for lunch). They also have small sub-containers that I love for doing salad dressing or similar, which was always awkward with Mr. Bento. Unfortunately they’re not insulated, so this is only a good option if your lunch is okay at room temperature or you have access to a fridge. I also find that the non-cylindrical shape of the set I have is awkward — the bottom container is too wide to comfortably fit in my backback and bike bag. To-Go Ware doesn’t appear to make this version anymore, fortunately. All these are quite large, which is great if you’re hungry, but not so great if your bag space is a at premium.
I also read the blog Vegan Lunch Box for a long time, and the author used the Laptop Lunch Box for her son, and had compellingly nice things to say about it. I never tried one because I didn’t like the idea of keeping the container on its side, and it wouldn’t fit flat in my bag (too wide). But it could be an awesome choice if the form factor works for you. She’s recently mentioned that there’s a similar product called Planet Box now that implements a Laptop Lunch-like system in stainless steel.
How do you carry your lunch, and does it work for you? Let me know!